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Home --> Language --> Apocrypha --> Can You Raed Tihs?

Can You Raed Tihs?

Claim:   University researchers demonstrate the order of letters within words is unimportant to reading comprehension.

Status:   Undetermined.

Examples:

[Collected on the Internet, 2003]

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a tatol mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.
 

[Collected on the Internet, 2003]

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro.

Origins:   This little bit of intriguing linguistic trivia stormed through inboxes in September 2003. That the order of letters within words is relatively unimportant to reading comprehension as long as the first and last letters are in their proper places seems to be self-evident, as demonstrated by the ability of nearly everyone who came across this item to understand what it said (although this is a very general application — results may vary when different types of words and contexts are used), but was there really a university study to this effect?

Some additional resources for pursuing the origins of this item:
  • The Languagehat web site appears to have been the one to popularize it.
  • Uncle Jazzbeau's Gallimaufrey, the science section of Slashdot, and Matt Davis from the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit of the University of Cambridge all have insight and ongoing discussion into the matter.
  • A January 2003 paper by researchers at the University of Edinburgh about "sublexical units and the split fovea" has been cited as an example of this type of research.
Last updated:   9 July 2007

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